Cancer Treatment Risks If You Have Other Health Problems
It is important to know how a chronic health problem can affect cancer treatment. Risks can include:
Reactions between your cancer drugs and other medications
Cancer or its treatment making your chronic health problems worse. This could make it harder to finish cancer treatment as planned.
Slower recovery from cancer treatment because of other health problems
It is important to tell your health care team about other health problems and any medications you take for them. Your health care team will work with you to lower these risks. For example, your doctor might ask you to stop taking or switch some medicines during cancer treatment. This is because some drugs can react with cancer treatments or medicine you take for the side effects of treatment.
Mouth And Throat Sores
Painful sores can make it hard to eat, and they can get infected.
- Get any dental work done at least 2 weeks before you start chemo.
- Brush your teeth and tongue after every meal and before bed with a soft toothbrush or cotton swabs.
- Suck on ice chips right before or during a chemo session.
About Chemotherapy Side Effects
The side effects you get will depend on the chemotherapy drugs;you are having. Different drugs cause different side effects.
Some side effects are mild and easily treated. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist may prescribe drugs to help control them. It is very important to take the drugs exactly as instructed. This means they will be more likely to work for you.
Other side effects can be harder to manage, but can often be reduced or helped in some way. Your nurse will give you advice about this.
Your doctor may talk to you about the risk of getting . Sepsis is a serious complication of an infection that could be caused by chemotherapy. Your doctor or nurse will tell you what signs of infection to look out for. Call the hospital’s 24-hour helpline straight away if you have symptoms. Quick treatment reduces the risk of sepsis developing.
Most side effects stop or slowly go away when chemotherapy;finishes. The side effects can be unpleasant, but the benefits of chemotherapy usually outweigh this.
If you are having a single drug, you may not have as many side effects as someone having a combination of drugs. People having high doses of chemotherapy may have more complex side effects.
You may have steroids with the chemotherapy. These also cause side effects. We have more information on steroids.
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Advanced Or Recurrent Kidney Cancer Treatment
For people with advanced kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, treatment with a drug may be recommended along with surgery, or instead of surgery. Some of these drugs are given to you as a pill that you take by mouth; others are given as an injection.; Much progress has been made in recent years, and people with advanced kidney cancer are living much longer than ten years ago.
- Medicine is often used for advanced kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or where surgery cannot be done.
- Immunotherapy uses the bodys defense system to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells
- Monoclonal antibodies attack a specific part of cancer cells
- Checkpoint inhibitors help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells
- Vaccines give an overall boost to the immune system
Talking With The Health Care Team
When you talk about cancer treatment with your health care team, bring your personal medical record. This helps your doctor lower your risk of reactions and other problems from treatment. Your medical record should include information about:
Any chronic health problems
Your medications, including how much you take, how often, and any side effects they cause
Drug allergies, including what happened when you took a medication you are allergic to
Other surgeries or medical procedures you have had
Medical tests and results
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Common Chemotherapy Side Effects Plus How To Ease Them
Getting a cancer diagnosis has the potential to completely upend your world. Although starting treatment like chemotherapy can be reassuring, it can also be confusing and scary. Chemo is intended to destroy fast-growing cancer cells, but it can also have some harsh and unpleasant side effects.
can kill cancer cells, but it cant distinguish between cancer cells and normal, healthy cells, Marlon Saria, Ph.D., R.N., advanced practice nurse researcher at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. That means chemo can put your body through hell in the process of trying to save your life.
As they work, chemo drugs target fast-reproducing cells , so theyre most likely to harm the normal, healthy cells in your hair follicles, mouth, digestive tract, reproductive system, and blood-forming cells in your bone marrow, according to the American Cancer Society . They can also affect cells in other parts of your body, like your heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and nervous system.
Certain types of chemo drugs are more likely to cause nausea and vomiting than others, which is why doctors classify them by their emetogenic potential, meaning how likely they are to provoke these symptoms, the ACS says. Other factors play in as well, like the dose you get and how its administered .
Why Wait Until Your Kidneys Are Diseased
While the study was conducted on people with kidney disease, we could safely extrapolate the recommendations to those who want to avoid kidney disease and achieve optimal kidney function now, especially as we age.
In fact, additional research points to the actuality of physiological changes in the kidneys as we age. The research notes that a progressive reduction of the glomerular filtration rate and renal blood flow are observed in conjunction with aging. The reason for these phenomena is a decrease in the plasma flow in the glomerulus, a bundle of capillaries that partially form the renal corpuscle.2
In addition, the aging kidneys experience other structural changes, such as a loss of renal mass, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli that constrict or dilate blood vessels. The study concludes with a notable summation:
age-related changes in cardiovascular hemodynamics, such as reduced cardiac output and systemic hypertension, are likely to play a role in reducing renal perfusion and filtration. Finally, it is hypothesized that increases in cellular oxidative stress that accompany aging result in endothelial cell dysfunction and changes in vasoactive mediators resulting in increased atherosclerosis, hypertension and glomerulosclerosis.2
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Symptoms Of Kidney Failure
We don’t think about our kidneys very much, even when they stop working effectively. Recent figures show that about eight percent of Americans are in some stage of kidney failure but do not realize it. To spot this illness at an early stage is the most significant challenge in battling kidney disease. The primary factor that makes early identification difficult is that many of the signs only appear at a later stage in the illness, and they can easily be mistaken for symptoms of another disease.
Chemo Can Lead To Kidney Damage In Breast Cancer Patients
In the United States, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women and its incidence increases with age. Many of those cancers are treated using chemotherapy, often with problematic side-effects. A new study from University of Minnesota School of Public Health alumna Shuling Li shows how such side-effects could cause kidney damage in elderly breast cancer patients.
The study found that chemotherapy is associated with nearly a three-times increased risk of acute kidney injury within six months of beginning treatment compared to patients not treated with chemotherapy, says Li, who conducted the research as part of her dissertation.
Acute kidney injury, or AKI, is associated with many adverse health outcomes, including kidney failure and death. The study is one of the first population-based projects to examine the relationship between AKI and chemotherapy.
For the study, Li looked at two groups of women ages 66-89 diagnosed with stages I-III breast cancer between 1992 and 2007. The first group consisted of 14,000 chemotherapy patients and 110 were found to have been hospitalized with AKI. In comparison, a second group of 14,000 non-chemotherapy patients suffered only 30 AKI-related hospitalizations.
The next question to ask is whether or not chemo really has a toxic effect on kidneys, says Li.
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What Are Side Effects
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the two most common types of cancer treatment. They work by destroying these fast-growing cells. But other types of fast-growing healthy cells also can be damaged along with cancer cells, causing adverse reactions, or side effects.
Side effects can range from tiredness and flu-like symptoms to hair loss and blood clotting problems. Because it’s hard for doctors to predict how the body will react, a child who is being treated for cancer is closely monitored. Doctors weigh the amount and severity of side effects against the benefits of treatments.
Fortunately, most side effects are temporary. As the body’s normal cells recover, these problems start to go away.
Side effects vary:
- Some can be merely unpleasant, while others can be much more serious.
- Some show up right away, while others develop over time.
- Some kids have just a few, while others have many over the course of treatment.
What Else Should I Know
Cancer treatment has come a long way. But it can be hard for kids and teens to cope with the sometimes painful or uncomfortable side effects of treatment. Fortunately, doctors have many ways to make treatments easier to manage.
Your child also might feel the emotional effects of having a serious illness. Answer questions and help explain what’s going on in an age-appropriate way. You also can talk with the care team. A hospital support group, life specialist, social worker, or psychologist from the care team can help your child and your whole family before, during, and after cancer treatment.
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Sources Of Funding And Conflicts Of Interest
All committee members involved in drafting these guidelines have submitted conflict of interest declarations in accordance with the regulations of their respective academic societies; these declarations are managed by each societys secretariat. These guidelines have been drafted based purely on scientific grounds and assessment, as well as public interest. Individual committee members conflicts of interests associated with business-academia collaborations are managed properly in compliance with the Policy of Conflict of Interest in Clinical Research adopted by academic societies related to internal medicine.
The burden of funding the creation of the present guidelines was borne by the Japanese Society of Nephrology and the three related collaborating societies . Funds were used for the drafting committee members transportation expenses, meeting site expenses, and meal expenses. These funds were not used for remunerations to the guideline drafting committee or the systematic review team.
Chemotherapys Potential Effects On The Sexual Organs
Many patients, both men and women, find that chemotherapy affects their sex organs as well as their ability to have sex. Your age and general health will influence how the drugs will affect your sexual function. The following advice may help in coping with sexual problems associated with cancer and chemotherapy:
Chemotherapy drugs cause temporary or permanent infertility by reducing the number of sperm cells and their ability to move.; While it does not necessarily affect a mans ability to have sexual intercourse, it could create difficulty in getting or keeping an erection. Chemotherapy also can damage the chromosomes, which could lead to birth defects.
Discuss with your physician or nurse practitioner the use of birth control during treatment, including using a condom for the first 48 hours following the last dose of chemotherapy, as some chemotherapy agents can be detected in the sperm. Your physician or nurse practitioner can advise you regarding how long to use birth control.
If you wish to father a child, you should consult your cancer care team to determine whether the treatment will affect your fertility and about the possibility of sperm-banking before you begin your treatment.
Chemotherapy can have an impact on a womans menstrual periods, fertility and menopause. If you wish to maintain your fertility after chemotherapy, consult with your health care provider before you begin treatment.; Consider the following:
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How Can I Cope With Nerve And Muscle Problems
The following strategies may reduce nerve and muscle problems related to chemotherapy:
- If your fingers are numb, they will not react appropriately when you touch something sharp or hot. Handle objects with care.
- To prevent falls or accidents, move slowly and use handrails, especially if you have weak muscles or if you are experiencing problems with balance. Use bath mats in the tub or shower to reduce your risk of slipping. Also, consider wearing shoes with rubber soles for better traction.
- Consult your physician and nurses regarding pain medication, if necessary.
Nervous And Muscular Systems
The central nervous system controls emotions, thought patterns, and coordination. Chemotherapy drugs may cause problems with memory, or make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. This symptom sometimes is called chemo fog, or chemo brain. This mild cognitive impairment may go away following treatment or may linger for years. Severe cases can even add to existing anxiety and stress.
Some chemo drugs can also cause:
Kidney And Bladder Effects
Certain chemotherapy medications, such as cisplatin, can cause damage to the kidneys and bladder. This can result in a decreased ability of your kidneys to filter your blood. Damage to the bladder can also occur and may be temporary or permanent. Symptoms of bladder irritation;may include pain or urgency with urination, or blood in your urine.
How Is Kidney Damage Treated
Kidney damage is usually reversible, if it is carefully managed to control the life-threatening complications. Once the drug or drugs that are causing the kidney damage are stopped, treatment focuses on preventing the excess accumulation of fluids and wastes while allowing the kidneys to heal. This may be achieved in several ways, including diuretics, sodium polystyrene sulfonate, diet modification, dialysis or drugs.
Diuretics: Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic to increase the amount of water you excrete in the urine. A commonly used diuretic is furosemide .
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate: This medication helps lower the amount of potassium in your blood by binding with the potassium in your stomach or gut so that you excrete it. This medication is administered by mouth or in an enema.
Diet modification: Your doctor may recommend that you restrict substances that are normally excreted by the kidney. This may include foods high in protein, sodium and potassium.
Dialysis: Dialysis is the use of a machine to remove excess waste and fluid. Your blood is routed through the dialysis machine then back into your body. Dialysis is not necessary for every patient, but may be lifesaving, particularly if you have very high levels of potassium in your blood.
Drugs: Amifostine , sodium thiosulfate, and diethyldithiocarbamate may help prevent or reduce the kidney toxicity associated with cisplatin
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How Long Does Chemotherapy Stay In Your Body
Chemotherapyagents are powerful drugs;that are;used to treat cancer throughout the body. Chemotherapy drugs work by a variety of different mechanisms, but their general effect is to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, which divide and proliferate quickly.;Chemotherapy is administrated with the intention of eliminating cancer cells so that the infected body can survive and remain in remission.;;
Patients;may receive;a number of different;types of;chemotherapy, depending on a variety of factors such as the stage of the cancer and the;ultimate goal;of treatment.;;
Know Your Risks And Monitor Health
- Ask your oncologist about your risk of late effects.
- Tell your primary health care provider about your risk. Share a copy of your Survivorship Care Plan, which includes details about your cancer treatment and information about health problems that may occur because of your treatment.
- Have a yearly physical examination including a blood pressure check.
- Have blood tests for kidney function and salt levels at the first long-term follow-up visit.
- Patients who have had a bladder removal should see an urologist once a year.
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Reduced Number Of Blood Cells
Chemotherapy can reduce the number of blood cells made by the bone marrow. Bone marrow is a spongy material that is found in the middle of your bones. It makes special cells called stem cells which develop into the different types of blood cells:
- white blood cells, which fight and prevent infection
- red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body
- platelets, which help the blood to clot and prevent bleeding and bruising.
You will have regular blood samples;taken to check the number of these cells in your blood .
Side effects may include:
Reduced number of white blood cells
If you have a low number of white blood cells, you are more likely to get an infection. The main white blood cells that fight infection are called neutrophils. When they are low, you are neutropenic.
Your resistance to infection is usually lowest 7 to 14 days after chemotherapy. The number of your white blood cells will then increase steadily and usually return to normal before your next cycle of chemotherapy is due. Developing an infection when you have a low number of white blood cells can sometimes be a serious complication of chemotherapy. Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics and other medicines to take during chemotherapy to prevent an infection. These are called prophylactic drugs. Or you may have injections called G-CSF;to encourage your bone marrow make more white cells.
Your chemotherapy nurse will talk to you about infection and show you how to check your temperature.